Moving in with someone is a big decision. It’s like getting married, but without all the flowers and expensive cake—hopefully less expensive, but still exciting, fun, and a necessary next-step in your beautiful long-term relationship.
On one hand, you get to share your life with someone you love, and on the other—compromise. Moving in together can be a fairytale come true or a nightmare in the making, and your mileage may vary depending on how well you plan for your new living situation. Keep reading for some (tried and true!) guidelines that can help ease you into your Happy Ever After.
Make a moving plan and stick to it
Now that you’ve decided to move in together, here are a few things you can do to ensure a seamless transition:
- Before you begin packing up your belongings, make sure you’re in agreement on what bigger items you’re keeping and what you’re selling or giving away. Chances are, you’ll need to downgrade to avoid having two of everything. Discussing this now will help avoid confusion or double work during the actual move itself—and the dreaded moving-day bickering.
- Have enough help on hand—if you can afford them, professional movers are worth it. The goal here is that everything goes as smoothly as possible (i.e. tensions stay low and morale stays high).
- Take measurements of the space you’re moving into, that way, you’ll know where things go before they arrive.
Pick your battles before you move
You can't ask your partner to get rid of all their stuff, but you might be able to convince them to put it in storage while you start out with a fresh slate. If their not willing to compromise on a few things, that could be a longer term issue. If you're moving in together after dating for a while, it's likely that both parties are going to have some expectations about what their new life together will look like. The only way to prevent an argument is by being flexible and compromising when necessary. Find out what's a deal breaker when living with someone, and what’s not—a great way for you to get to know each other better, too.
Establish clear rules for rent and bills
The first thing to do is set up a budget for anything that is shared—and talk it out til you’re both on the same page. Figure out what bills will be shared in addition to rent–like cable or utilities–and who will be the name on the account. Having clear rules will help you stay civil when one of you wants pizza every Friday night but the other thinks it's too expensive. Been there, done that.
Move in with someone who is willing to compromise
This word is mentioned many times in this post, and should be the most important takeaway. When moving in with a partner, you have to be ready to compromise.
That said, make sure you’re both doing just as much compromising as the other. For example, if your partner wants to decorate the space entirely based on their taste, have a conversation about it. Lose the passive aggression; it gets you nowhere. Besides, there's no point in saying you don’t like the motorcycle patent prints after they’ve already been hung on the walls. The aim here is to end up with a space that feels comfortable and like home to both of you.
Good communication is essential
When you move in with your partner, it's important to remember that you're entering into a different stage of your relationship.
A thing that becomes increasingly important is: communication.
Your partner has different needs than you do at different times in your life and partnership, and if you don't talk about them, you won't know what they are. And if you're not communicating about what's important to YOU, then how can you expect your partner to know?
There are times when those needs are small. Need the dishwasher emptied because you feel overwhelmed with work stuff and need a break from the household chores?? Ask your partner. Tired of eating french fries every week and want to turn your weekly McDonalds run into something healthier? Discuss with your partner.
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that just because someone loves us, they'll automatically know what we want and need. But love doesn’t translate to telepathy—we have to communicate.
Be clear about your boundaries
You might think you know your partner's boundaries, but do you really?
Communicating boundaries is an important part of a healthy relationship. You need to be able to make it clear when you need your own personal space, and your partner needs to respect that. Moving in with someone means they’ll be around you all the time, even in moments where you need your own space, or just want to do your own thing. Your partner needs to know where you stand—and don’t assume they do.
It's normal to want some time to yourself every once in a while, but when you live with someone else, it can feel impossible to get away from them for even one second if you need some space. So how do you communicate that you need your own personal space without hurting your partner's feelings?
It all starts with being honest, and figuring out what kind of space each person needs. Some people are fine with just retreating into their room for a while, while others need to go outside or run errands just to have time alone. You should also consider what kinds of things happen when one person needs alone time: Are they prone to getting annoyed if they're interrupted? Do they get stressed out easily? Or do they prefer having someone nearby so they don't have time alone at all?
It's also important to set boundaries that are realistic for both of you. If you're constantly busy with work or studying, it's not fair for your partner to expect that you'll always be available for hanging out or doing chores at the same time as them. On the other hand, if one person is always making plans without asking the other person first, then the other person could feel like they're being left out.
You don't have to have everything figured out right away—but it's good to have a general idea of what works well for both of you so that you can communicate effectively and avoid misunderstandings down the line.